CATO OP-EDS

Ryan Bourne We’ve all heard the sayings. Whether it’s former journalist CP Scott’s: “Comment is free, but facts are sacred”, or the late US Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s “You are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts”, it’s comforting to believe that certain realities are beyond reasonable dispute. , Yet even basic “facts” about the economy in the US are today wrangled over. Republicans and Democrats there don’t just disagree about the wisdom of certain policy ideas or whether observed trends in certain metrics are worrisome. Each side has their very own data and account of the world, creating irreconcilable narratives about the state of the nation. Left-wing Democratic Presidential candidates, such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, reach for academic work to claim there’s been income stagnation for four decades, spiralling inequality, a tax system becoming ever less progressive, and endemic poverty. Republicans reject all these claims, themselves armed with studies from credible university professors and government sources. In a country riven by tribalism, and beset by segmented news consumption, economists fail even to provide politicians with a simple shared understanding of the state of [...]
Tue, Oct 15, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Ted Galen Carpenter A key drawback of Washington's growing global list of allies and security clients is that some of them hate each other more than any enemies of the United States. The current turmoil associated with President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw American military personnel from northern Syria highlights the problem. That deployment served as a symbolic barrier discouraging Turkey from attacking the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish-dominated militia that had worked with the United States to combat ISIS. , That collaboration has been a sore point in relations between Washington and Ankara for years. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan considers both the SDF and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)—a Marxist insurgent group that has been waging a secessionist war in southeastern Turkey for over three decades—to be terrorist organizations. As a result, the Trump administration had been on an increasingly shaky diplomatic tightrope, endeavoring to placate both Ankara and the SDF. In November 2017, Trump tried to ease the Erdoğan government’s seething resentment by pledging to stop providing weapons to the SDF. His concession, though, had minimal effect. In August 2018, Erdoğan accused the United States of a “stab in the back” for [...]
Tue, Oct 15, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Christopher A. Preble and Doug Bandow News that Turkey had sent its military into northeast Syria, after receiving a tacit green light from President Trump, marked a grim low point in U.S. involvement in the lengthy, multisided Syrian civil war. The fate of Kurdish forces who battled ISIS and civilians sheltered in refugee camps have generated understandable concern. But there has been too little reflection on how we arrived at this unhappy place. Americans should learn from the experience and pledge to avoid similar debacles in the future. , The many problems with U.S. intervention in Syria began with an extraordinarily ambitious, and ultimately irreconcilable, set of goals. U.S. officials wanted to take advantage of the Arab Spring reform movements that erupted in early 2011 to oust Bashar al-Assad's regime, while also thwarting Russian and Iranian ambitions in Syria and beyond. Both the Obama and Trump administrations relied on some violent extremists to defeat other radical groups, especially the Islamic State, which sought to establish its so-called Caliphate. Supporting regime change in Damascus undercut efforts to counter ISIS. Moreover, as ISIS gained strength, the United States enlisted the help of—and armed—Kurdish fighters, [...]
Tue, Oct 15, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Clark Neily It's no secret that federal judges do not, by and large, look like the rest of us. They are whiter than average, more male, and more likely to have attended elite schools and worked at big law firms. But there's another quirk of the judiciary that hasn't gotten nearly the attention it deserves: the wild imbalance between judges who used to represent the government in court and judges who used to challenge the government in court. , According to conventional wisdom, the surest way to become a federal judge is to first be a prosecutor. But is that really true? Until now, no one had ever examined the professional background of every sitting federal judge to see whether former prosecutors are in fact overrepresented on the federal bench. So we at the Cato Institute did, and they are—massively. But our study didn't just look at former prosecutors. We also broadened our scope to compare judges who served as courtroom advocates for the government in any capacity—criminal or civil—versus the judges who cut their teeth litigating against the government as public defenders, other criminal defense attorneys, and public interest [...]
Mon, Oct 14, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Doug Bandow Shortly after presiding over a grand celebration of the 70th anniversary of the creation of the People’s Republic of China, President Xi Jinping is expected to receive North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. In June, Xi visited Pyongyang, the first trip to North Korea by a Chinese leader since Hu Jintao in 2005. , If this upcoming meeting occurs, it will be the two leaders’ sixth in two years. Many American policymakers take a cynical view of the latest North Korean-Chinese snuggle. Attitudes in Washington have been steadily hardening against the PRC. Even before President Donald Trump’s trade war, some officials and analysts viewed the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as Beijing’s puppet. In their view, Chinese officials have turned North Korean provocations on and off at will. In truth, the PRC’s influence is much less. The historical relationship between the two governments is fraught, with abundant competition, derision, and antagonism ever since the two opened diplomatic relations 70 years ago. , The historical relationship between the two governments is fraught, with abundant competition, derision, and [...]
Mon, Oct 14, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Ted Galen Carpenter A barrage of criticism from outraged congressional leaders and pundits greeted President Trump's decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from northern Syria near the border with Turkey. The intensity and breadth of the denunciations increased when Ankara predictably responded to Washington's move by launching a military offensive into Kurdish-controlled territory. , Now, not only is there heavy fighting in Northern Syria, but the Kurds have reportedly struck a deal with Bashar al-Assad's Syrian government for protection, and as of Monday, his forces have moved to the border to bolster the military resistance to Turkey's advancement.  Washington was in an uproar all weekend. According to the prevailing argument, Trump betrayed a noble ally that had fought alongside the United States in the successful campaign against ISIS, and now no one will ever again trust the United States if Washington seeks assistance against a dangerous adversary. The fact that the Kurds have turned to Assad (a stated foe of the U.S. backed by the Russians) only makes Trump's seemingly impulsive move more dangerous. , Trump's decision to leave Syria is another lesson in losing sight of our nation's [...]
Mon, Oct 14, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Patrick G. Eddington In light of the attention focused on two anonymous whistleblowers who have accused President Donald Trump of shaking down the government of Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political rivals, people often ask what makes someone willing to risk their career and endure skepticism or even ridicule from co-workers to expose government wrongdoing? Such tortuous odysseys often take years and may, or may not, solve the problem the whistleblower seeks to expose. The fact is, there are several steps Congress could take to ease this fraught path to accountability. , In describing some of the common characteristics of famous whistleblowers such as Daniel Ellsberg, journalist Tom Mueller writes in his new book, Crisis of Conscience: Whistleblowing in an Age of Fraud, “The ability of all these men to act was enhanced by a certain independence of character, a lack of awe of authority often accompanied by a sarcastic sense of humor, a sense of options in their lives beyond their specific career, a relatively modest need for approval from their peers, and a confidence that they could act independently and effect real change with their acts.”  [...]
Mon, Oct 14, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Mustafa Akyol In the days just before Turkey’s military incursion into Syria, for which the stated aim includes purging a Kurdish militia that has been allied with the United States in the fight against the Islamic State, President Trump made a comment on the history of the two conflicting sides. He defined Kurds as Turkey’s “natural enemy,” adding, “one historian said they’ve been fighting for hundreds of years.” , I am not sure who that historian was, but as someone who has studied this particular history, I can assure you that the tension between Turks and Kurds is not centuries old. It is actually about one century old, and it’s the result of a very modern force: nationalism. The history does begin in the early 16th century, when the Ottoman Empire, founded in western Anatolia by Sunni Turks, began to expand eastward, only to conflict with the Shiite Safavid Empire in Persia. The Kurds, a tribal people, most of whom were Sunni Muslims, were caught in the middle; soon they willingly joined the Ottomans. Through the next four centuries, they lived under the same state with Turks, Arabs, Bosnians, [...]
Sun, Oct 13, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Walter Olson That’s one way to look at it. Alternatively, you could teach your kids about how law works, so that they would understand that the arguments made before the Supreme Court on Tuesday had nothing to do with anyone’s humanity being up for debate. In fact, the three cases at issue—Bostock v. Clayton County, Altitude Express v. Zarda, and Harris Funeral Homes v. EEOC—raise a number of issues of statutory interpretation, none of which call anyone’s humanity into question. , The question raised by these cases is whether existing federal civil rights law, when it bans any discrimination against an employee “because of ... sex,” thereby banned private employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. No one seriously argues that 1964 legislators intended to do either of those things. But under the principles of statutory interpretation that have proved ascendant with today’s Court, the most important element in determining what a statute means is the text within its four corners, not its intent or legislative history. This is important because you can construct an ambitious—but not frivolous—argument that even if inadvertently, the “because of ... sex” language sweeps broadly enough to reach situations [...]
Fri, Oct 11, 2019
Source: OP-EDS
Andrei Illarionov This year the Cato Institute held an event artistic exhibition called “Freedom: Art as The Messenger.” Visitors could enjoy pieces specially commissioned by contemporary artists to represent what freedom means to them. , But if such an exhibition had included historical works, which piece of art would most accurately express the very idea of ​​freedom? The answer is in one of the best art museums of the world, in a country known as a home of religious toleration, commerce, and limited central government. The remarkable Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam houses Rembrandt van Rijn’s The Night Watch (1642). Notably, The Night Watch is a group portrait.Although freedom is often perceived as an individual (personal) quality, its maintenance and protection require group efforts. Regardless of how free, talented, creative, independent, or strong an individual is, alone he or she is unable to protect his or her property and loved ones in a clash with a band of gangsters, regardless of whether those gangsters are a private enterprise or agents of a state. Collective efforts are necessary to protect personal freedom. Secondly, it is a group portrait of people with equal legal status, which is a fundamental element of the [...]
Fri, Oct 11, 2019
Source: OP-EDS

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